Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teenage Head

This is another CD that I've meant to write about for ages. These Canadian 70's punk band, named after the Flamin' Groovies song, of course, looked like a mix of glam and punk and sang highly melodic tunes with plenty of 50's and 60's influences.

"You're Tearing Me Apart" blasts out with plenty of high energy attitude, cool riffs and an impossibly catchy chorus. Chris Spedding was involved with the recording (I seem to remember that maybe he did some shows with them, as well) and this has the kind of stripped-down, guitar-dominated sound that Chris was known for. More of the same coolness follows in "Ain't Got No Sense", with a hip "oh-oh" chorus and some wild guitar noise. Stealing from one of the best, Eddie Cochran, they swoop into "Bonerack" - no idea what the title means, as it is nowhere in the song, which, lyrically, is about mental illness. Odd, but rockin'! Probably one of their best known is "Picture My Face", a classic 60's/70's-styled punk rock'n'roll song - great groove and great sound. The bizarrely titled "Lucy Potato" is a frantic rocker, as is "Little Boxes", another title that has nothing to do with the song (that I can tell), whose tag line is about "alimony". Canadian humor, maybe?

Not quite as crazed, but still solidly rockin', is "Curtain Jumper", with some nice Johnny Thunders-esque leads, but back to the mania for "Top Down" while still maintaining the catchiness. "Get Off My Back" doesn't have quite the same sing-along quality, but it still barrels along, and then "Kissin' the Carpet" ("with my face") starts off as a harmonica-led blues number before turning into another TH rocker - and the harp comes back for the rockin' outro! Bonus tracks include the powerhouse "Disgusteen" (cool title and great song with rippin' guitar!) and other takes on "You're Tearin' Me Apart" (even faster), "Bonerack", "Lucy Potato" and "Top Down".

Canada did have a small but thriving punk scene in the 70's and these cats - along with the Diodes - are some of the best. This is the only record I've heard though and the interwebs tells me that there are several more. I'd be interested in hearing if they're as cool.

3D6 - Space Fapping

Proudly declaring themselves "nerd-rock", Las Vegas' 3D6 (a Dungeons and Dragons reference) is
the real thing - one of the guys works for the IT company that my business uses!

The music is pop-punk (fittingly) and the lyrics reference themselves and D&D ("Save Does Not End"), George Lucas and Princess Leia ("I Love Star Wars Anyway"), sex and Star Trek ("The Whore of Enterprise D" - something that I'm sure would be needed on those long trips), video games and girlfriends ("I Killed a Dragon" - "and you don't even care"), role playing games and the boredom of "real life" ("I'd Rather Live in an R.P.G."), masturbation in space and the lack of subject matter ("Satellite of Self Love", which uses the album title as the chorus), felching - or similar practices ("Parvo Deuce"), getting high and reading comics ("Stonerd" - great title!), agoraphobia - or just a general, reasonable disgust with the world ("Why Do I Go Out in Public") and, of course, a monumental, (faux)-string-laden ode to the replaceable Star Trek crew members, "Red Shirt Requiem".

Complete silliness but frantically entertaining. Sure to come to a comic book store near you!

The Time Crashers - Bootleg From the Future

Las Vegas' own time-traveling punk rock band, the Time Crashers, have yet to release their debut album, but they have traveled into the future, where it has been released, and returned with 6 tracks that they are now offering at their present shows in this Bootleg From the Future CD.

The music is fast-paced punk rock with some wild guitar riffs and incredibly silly/smart lyrics (think Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - which they quote). Songs refer to drinkin' beer with Genghis Kahn ("Conquering the Keg"), delivering pizza to the Vikings ("Pizza Berserker" - you can't go wrong with a spelling song!), dystopia (the funky, swingin' dance number "Dystopia Swing"), the destruction of Pompei ("Party Pompei"), the self-explanatory hard-core "Fuck the Time Cops" and the ska-ish ode to H.G. Wells, "Morlock'n'Roll".

The live show is a blast and this is a cool momento and some fun and goofy punk rock. Check 'em out!


The Pickadillos - We're Only In It For the Dobro - Live at the Freakin' Frog

This is not an official release, but, who knows, maybe Rob will make you a copy if you ask him nicely!

The Pickadillos was Rob Bell's (Psyatics/Unwieldies/Gentlemen of Four Outs/Yeller Bellies, etc.) bluegrass band, with Rob singing lead and playing mandolin, accompanied by a terific banjo player, dobro, guitar, stand-up bass, drums, and lord knows what else. I never had a chance to see them play, but the musicianship here is all top-notch and, while the songs are all covers, there's some cool, funny and twisted choices here, as in a bluegrass medley of Pipeline" and "Stop in the Name of Love"! Who comes up with things like that?! Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" makes a bit more sense - it's actually pretty close to the original, at least comparatively - but then they do "Cum On Feel the Noize" into "We're Not Gonna Take It"! Yeesh! Bluegrass banjo-pickin' on these tunes is truly bizarre. "Stuck in the Middle With You" is logical and somehow blended that with "I'm Down" does work.

Again, there are some more traditional tunes, like "Roly Poly" (where everyone gets to take a lead), "Rocky Top", "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Dear Ol' Dixie". Then they take another weird tangent with Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives", with the mandolin handling the classic guitar line. The banjo workout "Fuji Mountain Breakdown" turns into "Turning Japanese" (hah!) and then there's another true oddity, Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright", though it is played as more of a straight rock number.

There's a few more tunes here that I'm not familiar with, but all cool, fun stuff. Wish I had known about the band when they were playing. I actually have not even been to the F.Frog, but the sound on this disc is pretty great, so it seems like it was/is a cool place to see bands. Considering some of the groups that are popular now, it seems like these cats were ahead of their time. Sorry they're not still around!

The Unwieldies - Always the Optimist

Wasting little time, this is the second album from Las Vegas' premier acoustic act in less than a year. I thought that Let's Grow Old and Strange Together was pretty special, and this one shows their growth and expansion of sound - I'm looking forward to hearing these tunes live at their record release show this week!

The album has several guests to add seasonings to the proceedings, including Danielle (vocals/acoustic guitar) and Rob's (stand-up bass/mandolin/vocals) talented daughter Bijou on percussion, Richard Wells on dobro, Jason Edwards on piano and Gene Howley (from the Gentlemen of Four Outs) on clarinet and saxophones. Of course, Jack Bell is still here on violin and guitar, as well.

The opening "I Told You So" is a lovely, dobro-driven piece of Unwieldies folk while the title track is an early Americana bit with piano, clarinet and sultry torch-song vocals from Danielle. "Bad Seeds" is a more up-beat, violin-led duet between Danielle and Rob - kinda folk-garage to my ears (nice percussion additions from Bijou and, of course, Jack is stellar) - and then they do a nice reading of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows". Rob takes lead vocals for "Tongue Tied", which has some cool interaction between dobro and violin, and the somewhat caustic "It's Not Me, It's You" has truly lovely harmonies from the Bells, as well as a light, but driving, rhythm from Bijou.

Another jazzy torch song, essentially just Danielle and Rob's stand-up, is the sweet "As Long As I Have Breath", and then they change course again in "Nicotine Kid", sounding old-timey with Rob singing an ode to smoking (which he does not do) with Gene layering saxophones over a swingin' beat. Back to a quiet folk number in "Rain Damage" and, appropriately, Rob & Danielle trade off and harmonize on "We Compliment". There's a kinda sea-chanty/Tom Waits-ian feel to "Heaven's Just Not the Right Fit" (with Rob on lead again) and they close out with more terrific harmonies on "Whiskey in Hand" (with one of my fave lines ever - "down in the alcohol of fame") and we even get to hear Rob's mandolin again.

I really love the songwriting here and the performances are pretty damn exceptional, as well, Folk music with plenty of varied influences, humor and attitude. If you're not afraid of wooden music, you need to hear the Unwieldies!

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp - An Autobiography - Richard Hell

Of course, I picked up Richard Hell & The Voidoids Blank Generation when it first came out and dug its catchy tunes and wild guitar playing (Robert Quine and Ivan Julian), although there is a certain pretentiousness to it all, that didn't - and doesn't - particularly bother me. After that debut, though, Hell kinda fell off of my radar, other than seeing his name in print every once in a while, usually as a writer, instead of musically. This book tells his story and what happened to him before and since.

Even at a young age he appears to be quite narcissistic and he was easily bored at school, hence him bouncing in and out of several - one where he met Tom Verlaine (Miller) and became friends - before eventually quitting for good as a teenager and moving to NYC. Here he dreamed of becoming a poet and did start writing and started publishing, as well. Tom followed him to the city and they rekindled their friendship, worked in bookstores together, wrote separately and together (their famous pseudonym, Theresa Stern, being released by Hell), and shared a love for music and its power. They would see bands like the New York Dolls and like so many others, they figured that they could do that too and decided to start their own band (he claims that he goaded Tom into it).

Hell has kind words for Patti Smith and her early offerings (though later lambastes her group) and says that she was an inspiration, as well. He talks of coming up with the look & style that was to signify punk – spikey hair, torn clothes, black jeans, safety pins, etc. – which others admit was his idea initially. This was all part of their transformation into the rock'n'roll alter egos for Television (a name he also claims that he came up with, not realizing that TV was Verlaine's initials). This is one of the most fun and exciting parts of the book – as it seems to be one of the most fun and exciting time of Richard’s life. Trying to describe that excitement is almost beyond him and he shows that he really does believe in the power of rock’n’roll.

Clashes with Verlaine caused it to fall apart though and from there he moved on to the Heartbreakers. His time with the band lasted only a year or so, but he says that it is some of his happiest musical times, with good camaraderie and good music – though he later talks some smack about Johnny’s songwriting. But, this band was popular enough that he lived off of it and got plenty of women (he continually talks about the women that he's fucked) and drugs. Hell says he wanted more than the Heartbreakers could supply in terms of creativity and new sounds, so he then formed the Voidoids with Robert Quine.

He has a chapter about Lester Bangs and how an interview with him caused one of the biggest misconceptions about “Blank Generation” – which was actually caused by Hell’s own words.
After the album Blank Generation, his life degenerated into a wasted drug haze, coming well past the point of dabbling and into a depraved addiction. He threw away everything for junk and is lucky to still be alive. I had to literally laugh out loud at his declaration that he had been drug free and “had no drug problems since” quitting with the help of NA, other than a “two-or-three-year period of relapse”! That’s not quite like saying “I tried it once more and didn’t like it” or something! Cleaning up meant that he left music, though, and he eventually made his living with his writing.


Hell is definitely talented and he has contributed a lot to this music that we call punk, but he is not a particularly likable guy (based on his writings), though his story is compelling. Worth reading for the historical value!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday September 12 - the Astaires with Generators and Tinnitus at Triple B
Friday September 12 - the All Togethers at the Boulder Dam Brewing Company
Friday September 12 - Erik Alesi and Hope's Edge at the Dillinger

Saturday September 13 - Jinxy Bear - the Beat

Thursday Sept 18 - the Unwieldies at the Velveteen Rabbit with the debut of the Devil's Duo
Thursday Sept 18 - Junior Brown, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Lucky Cheats and Delta Bombers and Clydesdale at Triple B

Monday Sept 22 - the Crimson Balladeers at the Beauty Bar with Blitzen Trapper and Cassorla

Thursday Sept 25 - Delta Bombers and Frantic Flintstones at the Dive Bar

Friday Sept 26 - the Psyatics at Time Out Sports Bar with the Blooze Brothers
Friday Sept 26 - Crazy Chief, the Sonic Saints, the New Waves and Frank and Deans at the Double Down

Sunday Sept 28 - the Lucky Cheats at the ISI 3 yr anniversary at Brooklyn Bowl

Sunday October 5 - the Psyatics and Sham 69 at the Dive Bar

Tuesday October 7 - the Delta Bombers with Imelda May at Brookly Bowl

Saturday October 11 - Gentlemen of Four Outs perform for a benefit for the Huntridge (70th Anniversary!) at the Mesquite Club (702 St Louis) - details to follow
Saturday October 11 - the Angry Samoans at the Dive Bar

Tuesday October 14 - the Unwieldies with Wayne Hancock, Whiskey Breath and Eddie Bear and the Cubs at the Dive Bar

Friday October 31 - Deadbolt and Delta Bombers at the Dive Bar

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Tom Waits - Never Talk To Strangers

I just came across this bootleg on You Tube and would certainly like to get a hard copy if it exists, as
I love this period of Tom Waits. This was recorded on BBC in July of 1979, with him performing tunes up through Heart Attack and Vine.

As is usual with Waits, he starts on the piano with a several minute monologue before segueing into a solo version of the title track, originally done as a duet with Bette Midler on the Foreign Affairs album. Interesting to hear him have the conversation with himself. The fun, energetic and swingin' "Step Right Up" (Small Change) follows (pretty exceptional version with the full band) and then the quiet piano ballad, "On the Nickel" (Heart Attack and Vine). Closing side one of the vinyl bootleg is the terrific film noir song "Red Shoes by the Drugstore" (Blue Valentine), done pretty damn close to the studio take, but with enough differences to make it kinda amazing. BV is probably my all time fave Waits album, so I really love this one.

Side two slides in with the cool jazz/blues sax'n'guitar workout "Burma Shave" (Foreign Affairs), again keeping the feel of the original but throwing in hep, new licks and Tom rappin'n'riffin' on the concept (and a nice hat-tip to "Summertime", as well). Blue Valentine's "Kentucky Avenue" is another sweet piano serenade with a bit of an autobiographical added intro (always joking, he uses the old line "I was born very young") before moving into this sad and lovely number. Another incredible noir-story-song is "Small Change" (from the album of the same name, of course), mostly a duet between Waits and the sax, with some light piano accompaniment - superb horn blowin' here. Appropriately, "Closing Time" (title track of his debut) ends the record with a fade-out.

As I've said, this is my fave period of Waits' ever-changing career, so of course I'm gonna dig this one, but this is a pretty special boot - and the sound is high-quality, as well. Now to search it out!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever - Tom Neely and Friends

I've written about Tom Neely's talents a few times already, and reviewed one of the comics that appear in this compilation, but just found this book and had to let everyone know that they need this, as well!

Tom is an immensely talented artist who has worked in many mediums and lately is receiving well-deserved kudos for his work on this project as well as his new comic (that I still need to get), The Humans. For those who haven't heard of this yet, the concept is that Henry Rollins and Glen Danzig are lovers, with 70's soft rockers Hall and Oates as their Satan-worshiping neighbors, and they all get into various high-jinx. Of course, there are countless pop culture and music references - I know that I'm not getting all of them since Tom is a number of years younger than I - along with lots of laughs  and some terrific artwork.

I personally prefer Tom's work to the other artists/writers of Igloo Tornado, but there are plenty of fun stories here, not to mention "The Secret History of Henry & Glenn Comics" which tests your comic knowledge with all of the in-jokes included.

Trust me, you want this!

And keep up with Tom at his blog here.

The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock’n’Roll by Preston Lauterbach

This book is dedicated to the history of the "chitlin' circuit" - the (mostly) small-town black music
circuit that catered to the African-American musicians who could not play the white music halls, either due solely to their race or because of the style of music that they played. The circuit's audience were mostly poorer blacks (hence the "chitlin'" portion of the name - the cheap food available at many of these places) and the music reflected their tastes.

There is a fair amount of pre-r’n’r history of the circuit and the reason why it came about, which is very informative and gives you a back story to many small-town/small-city scenes, along with the trend from big-band to smaller, jumpin’ combos to r’n’r groups, before it moves into the r’n’r years. These start with Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” and move to Lowell Fulson, who had Ray Charles leading his band, and who gave B.B.King his first hit, “Three O’Clock in the Morning”. From there we go to Little Richard and Esquerita and Johnny Ace and James Brown – all who managed varying levels of crossover and influenced each other. Of course, there are many more characters involved, from musicians to bookers to DJ's to promoters to music hall owners and many, many more. 

Personally, I would have liked to have heard more stories of the rock'n'rollers who started in this circuit in the 50's and 60's, but there is a lot of info here and it is quite interesting. Desegregation caused the disintegration of many/most cities' "strolls" (the black boulevards that included the halls/bars/businesses that made up the circuit) and hence the dissolving of most of the circuit, whether for good or bad. 

Certainly not a definitive story, but plenty of info that I never knew. A cool story with lots of wild characters. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday Sept 4 - the All Togethers with Candy's River House at the Velveteen Rabbit

Friday Sept 5 - Double Down Radio's 6th Anniversary Bash with Sheep On a Cliff, the Bitters, Fuzz Solow and the Pluralses

Saturday Sept 6 - the Weirdos at the Dive Bar
Saturday Sept 6 - Fuzz Solow with the Dirty Hooks at the Bunkhouse

Sunday September 7 - the Time Crashers with Mymanmike - the Dive Bar

Tuesday September 9 - The Clydesdale, Crimson Balladeers, the Badlands - Brooklyn Bowl

Friday September 12 - the Astaires with Generators and Tinnitus at Triple B
Friday September 12 - the All Togethers at the Boulder Dam Brewing Company

Thursday Sept 18 - the Unwieldies at the Velveteen Rabbit with the debut of the Devil's Duo
Thursday Sept 18 - Junior Brown, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Lucky Cheats at Triple B

Monday Sept 22 - the Crimson Balladeers at the Beauty Bar with Blitzen Trapper and Cassorla

Friday Sept 26 - the Psyatics at Time Out Sports Bar with the Blooze Brothers
Friday Sept 26 - Crazy Chief, the Sonic Saints, the New Waves and Frank and Deans at the Double Down

Sunday October 5 - the Psyatics and Sham 69 at the Dive Bar

Saturday October 11 - Gentlemen of Four Outs perform for a benefit for the Huntridge (70th Anniversary!) at the Mesquite Club (702 St Louis) - details to follow
Saturday October 11 - the Angry Samoans at the Dive Bar

Tuesday October 14 - the Unwieldies with Wayne Hancock, Whiskey Breath and Eddie Bear and the Cubs at the Dive Bar

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday August 28 - Thee Mapes, Fuzz Solow, Child Endangerment and more at the Dive Bar

Friday August 29 - the Super Zeroes at the Hard Hat Lounge
Friday August 29 - Whiskey Breath at the Dillinger

Saturday August 30 - the Psyatics at the Double Down
Saturday August 30 - Clydesdale and Eddie Bear and the Cubs at the Bunkhouse
Saturday August 30 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Thursday Sept 4 - the All Togethers with Candy's River House at the Velveteen Rabbit

Friday Sept 5 - Double Down Radio's 6th Anniversary Bash with Sheep On a Cliff, the Bitters, Fuzz Solow and the Pluralses

Saturday Sept 6 - the Weirdos at the Dive Bar
Saturday Sept 6 - Fuzz Solow with the Dirty Hooks at the Bunkhouse

Sunday September 7 - the Time Crashers with Mymanmike - the Dive Bar

Tuesday September 9 - The Clydesdale, Crimson Balladeers, the Badlands - Brooklyn Bowl

Friday September 12 - the Astaires with Generators and Tinnitus at Triple B

Thursday Sept 18 - the Unwieldies at the Velveteen Rabbit with the debut of the Devil's Duo
Thursday Sept 18 - Junior Brown, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Lucky Cheats at Triple B

Monday Sept 22 - the Crimson Balladeers at the Beauty Bar with Blitzen Trapper and Cassorla

Friday Sept 26 - the Psyatics at Time Out Sports Bar with the Blooze Brothers
Friday Sept 26 - Crazy Chief, the Sonic Saints, the New Waves and Frank and Deans at the Double Down

Sunday October 5 - the Psyatics and Sham 69 at the Dive Bar

Saturday October 11 - Gentlemen of Four Outs perform for a benefit for the Huntridge (70th Anniversary!) at the Mesquite Club (702 St Louis) - details to follow
Saturday October 11 - the Angry Samoans at the Dive Bar

Tuesday October 14 - the Unwieldies with Wayne Hancock, Whiskey Breath and Eddie Bear and the Cubs at the Dive Bar

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Time Crashers/The Phenomenauts - the Dive Bar, Saturday August 23, 2014

It's been difficult getting out lately but I've been meaning to see the Time Crashers for ages and had heard good things about the Phenomenauts for even longer, so took a nap and made it down to the Dive Bar.

Unfortunately, the nap meant that I missed Bloody Ale and 3D6 (who I found out includes a friend of mine - but I got their CD, so will review that when I have a moment) but got there just before the Time Crashers broke out from the space/time continuum back into our "present" to party with Las Vegas at the Dive Bar.

Singer Nikola Tesla introduces the band that he put together after inventing time travel and choosing fellow geniuses from the past - the twin guitars of Leonardo da Vinci and Francisco Pizarro, bassist Julius Caesar and drummer Carl Sagan - and off they go into a rampaging set of punk rock tunes about partying through the ages, pizza, Huns, Pompei and much more. Caesar is appropriately a megalomaniac, dancing around and hogging center stage to the extent that Leonardo has to call him out (see below). Great "shtick", great stage presence, fun songs, cool energy, and an all-around good time that had the audience bouncin' along right from the start. Definitely a band to see!




The Phenomenauts followed with an extraordinary stage set up with a bank of keyboards (including a Moog!), custom mic stands, lots of lights, a laser set-up and plenty of smoke! All very dramatic and fun to watch, but difficult to properly photograph and convey! Beyond the beyond visually - besides all of the above, they have matching outfits, a wacked-out bass that has been cut up with a pole added (to make it sorta like a stand-up bass (which apparently they used in the past), they dance around like maniacs and change instruments, and, at one point, they bring out a leaf blower/TP shooter to add to the mayhem!


Musically, they are a mix of poppy-punk and new wave and lots of other craziness. There's a 50's, doo-wop-styled ballad ("Only Chemical") that is backed by only keyboards, a "Great Big Kiss" steal, and a cool dance number, "Broken Robot Jerk", based on the guitarist in the helmet. The crowd loved them - one of the bigger turn-outs I have ever seen at the Dive Bar, even for major bands - and obeyed them when exhorted to crouch down, pogo, or what-have-you.


Great night at the Dive Bar, who continues to book a healthy variety of music (the night before was country/punk/rock/whatever) and this night even kept the number of bands to a reasonable amount, which meant a decent end time. Kudos all around!